Nouvelle-Aquitaine is the biggest region in France, stretching from the Pyrenées to north of La Rochelle via the Dordogne and the Gironde. So, if your ideal vacation involves strolling through the narrow streets of medieval towns and villages and exploring the local architectural treasures you won't be disappointed.

In this region, there are more than 50 towns that are listed in the Most Beautiful Villages of France (Plus Beaux Villages de France), so allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy exploring this area. Take a look at the 10 prettiest villages in Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

  • 1

    Beynac-et-Cazenac

    A medieval city with a very special feel

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    Beynac-et-Cazenac is a village around 10 kilometers to the south west of Sarlat-la-Canéda in the Dordogne. This village is one of the prettiest in France, with lots to do and well worth a detour.

    And while you're there don't forget to visit the castle (le château de Beynac). Dating from the 12th century it sits on a cliff overlooking the village. It gives you a fantastic view over the valley and the roofs of the typical light stone houses with limestone tiled roofs (lauze) in the village.

    Location: 24220 Beynac-et-Cazenac

    Open: 24/7

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  • 2

    Brantôme

    Welcome to the Venice of the Perigord

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    Brantôme is a beautiful village on the banks of the River Dronne in the Dordogne. The town and its surrounding countryside are quite beautiful. Start at the bridge and Bertin quay, from where you can see beautiful houses lining the river, with lots of flowers. Then you can walk through town to the cliff to explore the Benedictine abbey of St Peter (Saint-Pierre).

    It was built by Charlemagne in the 8th century and today you can still see the abbey church, some of the cloister and other buildings that now house museums with information about the history of the town. The church's bell tower is considered to be the oldest in France.

    Location: 24310 Brantôme, France

    Open: 24/7

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  • 3

    Collonges-la-Rouge

    A ruby set among vines and chestnut trees

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    Collonges-la-Rouge in the Corrèze is a unique village in the Dordogne valley on the geological fault of Meyssac. It is built from the local red sandstone extracted from the 450 meter high Puy de Valège, hence the name "la Rouge".

    As you wander along the medieval streets of this beautiful village, you"ll notice that it must have been a wealthy spot, since the houses are large and decorative with lots of towers. You'll find a church, a chapel and the towers of the old castle just outside the village.

    Location: 19500 Collonges-la-Rouge, France

    Open: 24/7

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  • 4

    Domme

    Explore one of the most beautiful bastide towns in Perigord

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    Domme is an old fortified or bastide town in Black Perigord (Périgord Noir) in south east Dordogne. It dominates the valley, giving you stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Looking at the ramparts and fortified gates that still exist, you can see that the King who built this town wanted to impress.

    If you want to find out more about its history, why not take a guided tour of the ramparts? Once you've reached the top of the town, you'll have a wonderful view of the Dordogne valley, including Montfort Castle (le château de Montfort), La Roque-Gageac and Beynac castle (le château de Beynac).

    Location: 24250 Domme, France

    Open: 24/7

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  • 5

    La Roque-Gageac

    A typical Dordogne village with a style all of its own

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    La Roque-Gageac is the one of the most visited places in France and a must-see if you are in the Dordogne valley. The pictures of the city, located at the foot of a cliff facing south at the water's edge, make you want to linger there.

    Once you're there don't forget to have a look at the Romanesque church and its exotic garden. The climate here is so warm that you'll see banana and palm trees.

    Location: 24250 La Roque-Gageac, France

    Open: 24/7

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  • 6

    Monflanquin

    Discover the checkered history of a typical bastide town.

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    Monflanquin is a village in Lot-et-Garonne which has been awarded a multitude of tourist labels reflecting it's beauty and floral charm. It was created in 1256, the year in which Alphonse de Poitiers drew up his charter of customs, as a typical fortified town with a checkerboard layout with two perpendicular axes that intersect to form the market square - now the Place des Arcades.

    There are lots of beautiful houses to be seen, but as you go down the very narrow streets look up to see the bridges between the houses. These streets are locally known as carrerots.

    Location: 47150 Monflanquin, France

    Open: 24/7

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  • 7

    Saint-Émilion

    A very special part of the Bordeaux vineyards

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    Saint-Emilion was the first vineyard to be given UNESCO World Heritage status. Looking over the countryside which is entirely given over to vines outside the well-preserved local villages, it's easy to see why it's called a cultural landscape.

    In the town itself, you'll see a very unusual 11th-century church that was carved into the rock and the King's Tower (la tour du Roy), which is the only intact Roman keep in the area. It's 32 meters high, and once you've climbed the 118 steps to the roof, you'll have a magnificent view of the town and the countryside.

    Location: 33330 Saint-Émilion, France

    Open: 24/7

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  • 8

    Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

    A beautiful town on the Way of St James

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    Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is a beautiful village south of the Pyrenees on the Spanish border. The name of this village, classified as one of the most beautiful in France, refers to its geographical location: "pied de port". It is located at the foot of the Roncesvalles pass, which leads to the south of the Pyrenees - an area where a "pass" is also referred to as a "port".

    This is a traditional Basque village where white houses have red shutters, but you can also visit the Church of Our Lady (l'église de Notre-Dame) and the St James Gate (porte de Saint-Jacques). This village is traditionally a stopping place for the pilgrims on the Way of St James.

    Location: 64220 Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France

    Open: 24/7

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  • 9

    Saint-Trojan-les-Bains

    Head for the second largest island on the French coast

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    Saint-Trojan-les-Bains in Charente-Maritime has been dedicated to vacations for over a hundred years. You can enjoy your time on the beach and enjoy the view of the beautiful villas built as vacation homes next to the beach at the end of the 19th century.

    The village is on the south of the Island of Oleron (l'île d'Oléron), surrounded by a huge pine forest and is one of the oldest seaside towns on the island. To get to the island you have to go to Bourcefranc-le-Chapus and drive over the 3-kilometre Oléron viaduct, which gives you a spectacular view over the sea.

    Location: 17370 Saint-Trojan-les-Bains, France

    Open: 24/7

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  • 10

    Sarlat-la-Canéda

    Explore the rich history of Black Perigord

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    Sarlat-la-Canéda, more often known as Sarlat, has no fewer than 66 historic or classified monuments. Which makes it a record holder for the place with the most classified buildings in it. This medieval Town of Art and History (ville d’Art et d’Histoire) has narrow streets lined with beautiful mansions like the Maison de La Boétie, the Hôtel du Barry and the Hôtel de Savignac.

    It also has the Cathedral of Saint Sacerdos (la cathédrale Saint-Sacerdos) and the Bishop's Palace (le palais des évêques). When you visit, you could just sit on one of the terraces on la place de la Liberté and enjoy one of the local specialties like foie gras (duck liver) or truffes.

    Location: 24200 Sarlat-la-Canéda, France

    Open: 24/7

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